Argentina 2-1 Mexico? What’s your prediction?
Argentina hope to restore their status as a tournament favourite against goal-shy Mexico in their Group C clash on Saturday where both heavyweights of Latin American football need to improve on disappointing starts to the World Cup.
The Argentines suffered one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history, with a 2-1 reverse to low-ranked Saudi Arabia, as captain and top scorer Lionel Messi embarked on his fifth and final attempt to win the only prize that has eluded him.
Mexico's low-scoring and injury-hit squad bore out pre-tournament pessimism in their first game, drawing 0-0 against Poland and only avoiding defeat thanks to a stunning save from veteran goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa.
So an already spicy-looking encounter has become even hotter for both teams if they are to avoid the ignominy of early exit.
27th November, 01:00 am, Bangladesh time
Lusail Stadium, Lusail, Qatar.
Prediction: Argentina 2-1 Mexico
* Lionel Messi has become the fifth player to score at four World Cup finals - after Cristiano Ronaldo, Miroslav Klose, Uwe Seeler and Pele - and the first Argentine player to feature at five tournaments.
* Mexico have lost only three of their last 21 World Cup group stage matches (W10 D8) and kept clean sheets in five of their last nine.
* Saudi Arabia ended Argentina's 36-match unbeaten run (W25 D11) on Tuesday in one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history.
* Mexico have failed to score in their last three World Cup games - the goalless draw with Poland on Tuesday and defeats to Sweden and Brazil in 2018.
* The teams first met all the way back at the inaugural World Cup in 1930, when Argentina won 6-3.
* Argentina have beaten Mexico 16 times in 35 meetings (D14 L5), including all three at a World Cup. They last locked horns in the competition in 2010, when Argentina won 3-1.
* Mexico last beat Argentina in the Copa America in 2004 but have lost to the South Americans eight times since then (D2).
Argentina: (4-3-3) Martinez (GK), Molina, Romero, Otamendi, Tagliafico, De Paul, Fernandez, Di Maria, Messi, Martinez, Alvarez
Mexico: (4-3-3) Ochoa (GK), Sanchez, Moreno, Montes, Gallardo, Alvarez, Herrera, Guardado, Lozano, Jimenez, Vega
The following is a stat box on Argentina
FIFA Ranking: 8
Argentina have appeared at 17 different World Cups, winning the tournament twice (1978 and 1986) and finishing runners-up three times. Their last appearance in the final came in 2014 when they lost to Germany in extra time.
Argentina scraped through to the knockouts of the 2018 World Cup after finishing second in the group, but were eliminated 4-3 by champions France in a see-saw last-16 encounter that was considered one of the most entertaining games of the tournament.
HOW THEY QUALIFIED:
Argentina finished second in the CONMEBOL qualifiers behind Brazil despite one of their games against their South American rivals being abandoned when Brazilian health officials stopped the match amid alleged COVID-19 quarantine violations.
Like Brazil, they were unbeaten during the campaign where they scored 27 goals in 17 games while conceding only eight and keeping 10 clean sheets. Lionel Messi and Lautaro Martinez were Argentina's top scorers with seven goals each.
Following is a statbox on Mexico at the World Cup.
FIFA ranking: 13 (as of Oct. 6)
Mexico have played in 16 World Cups, including the last seven. Their best performances came in 1970 and 1986, when they reached the quarter-finals.
'El Tri' have made the last 16 each time in the last seven editions.
How they qualified:
Mexico qualified second in the eight-team CONCACAF table. They collected 28 points from 14 matches, finishing behind Canada on goal difference, scoring 17 goals and conceding eight.